WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- A Palm Beach County family
was planning for a relaxing weekend while visiting relatives, but say they
ended up being targeted by deputies in upstate Florida who mistook them for
wanted drug dealers. They say they were so terrorized by deputies in rural
northern Florida they've filed a federal lawsuit for damages in excess of
The McCloud family from Delray Beach, Florida was visiting relatives in
Jefferson County, Florida, near the town of Monticello, when they were pulled
over by Sheriff's Deputies for allegedly speeding. Deputies asked to search
their vehicle, which they readily consented to, and nothing was found. But
deputies didn't stop there. A slew of other deputies soon showed up with a
K-9 unit. The police dog picked up a scent near the rear of the car and the
McClouds explained to the deputies that barbecue ribs were in the trunk. The
police dog did not find any drugs, but it continued to bark at the family's
"We were afraid for our lives and I tried to explain to the deputies that
my daughter was menstruating," said Arnetta McCloud. "But they treated us
like criminals and we will never forget what happened next."
A female deputy was called from nearby Leon County and upon her arrival
the female deputy searched Mrs. McCloud and allegedly groped Mrs. McCloud's
genital area without even using a sterile glove. The McCloud's 15-year-old
daughter was then ordered to remove her clothes and bend over in full view of
passing cars and male deputies. The female deputy then performed an illegal
and unnecessary cavity search on the minor.
Though no drugs were ever found, the McClouds say it only got worse as one
of the white deputies allegedly made racial slurs stating that his family used
to own members of the McCloud family and his family also used to own their
relatives' home in Jefferson County.
After three hours on the roadside, the McClouds told deputies they were
visiting the King family, who are relatives. Deputies then forced the McCloud
family back to the King home. Upon arrival around 3:00 a.m., deputies barged
through a half-open door and threw Mr. King to the ground. Deputies illegally
ransacked the home, but once again, no citations were issued and no arrests
were made. The McClouds and the Kings say they were threatened and told "that
they better not tell anyone or make any trouble."
A few months later, in early October 2001, Mr. McCloud and his attorney
Guy Rubin filed an action to release public records regarding the illegal
search. The Jefferson County Sheriff refused. "The day after we requested a
court hearing on the records' release, deputies were sent to Mr. McCloud's
home in Delray Beach," said Rubin. "This was total retribution and good ole
boy intimidation." Mr. McCloud was cuffed in the middle of the night, and
then whisked to North Florida without any notice.
Mr. McCloud was falsely accused of possession of cocaine and intent to
sell cocaine, and faced twenty years in prison. The deputies claimed the
arrest was justified from information they gained from a confidential
informant who was later identified as a relative of the lead Jefferson County
Sheriff's Office detective.
McCloud spent nearly a week in jail. Prosecutors and Sheriff's attorneys
then attempted to coerce a release of all civil liability for civil rights
violations in exchange for dropping the criminal charges. Mr. McCloud would
not take the deal, but prosecutors dropped the charges anyway.
Since Mr. McCloud was fearful of more retribution and being falsely
arrested again, the family has waited until now to file this lawsuit, because
the statute of limitation has run out on any possible criminal charges.
The McCloud family and the King family have filed a federal lawsuit which
claims deputies violated their civil rights. Attorney Guy Rubin says they
will ask for damages in excess of $10,000,000.
Case #04-80984 Unites States District Court, Southern District of Florida,
West Palm Beach Division.
SOURCE Rubin & Rubin, Attorneys and Counselors